NEW YORK - With every attack targeting New Yorkers of Asian descent, one's fear for one's safety in public grows. Such has been the case for Brooklyn resident Madeline Park for whom the simple act of taking the subway has become complicated.
"I didn't realize I would feel so fearful on the train," Park said of a recent ride in the subway. "Every minute of it, I was hyper-vigilant, looking at everybody, and sort of expecting someone to come up to attack me or harass me."
On social media, Park's influencer account goes by @cafemaddy, featuring a collection of stylish food-related posts. Realizing she can opt for a cab while others don't have the option because of their wallets, she started reimbursing people for their cab rides with her own money.
When some people learned of her generosity, they donated money as well. After just two days, she had to stop accepting donations.
Park has now set up a separate Instagram account to organize the effort: @cafemaddycab. Each night, after she and a couple of friends finish their day jobs, they go through submissions that come in on a Google form and reimburse rides for Asian women, Asian seniors, and Asian members of the LGBTQ community.
Gratitude has been rolling in. From seniors who used @cafemaddycab to get to a vaccine or doctor's appointment. From students and volunteers finding an ally for their safety at a scary time.
But Park is clear: she wants people to know support is out there and that things will improve.
"I really hope this program is temporary," Park told FOX 5 NY. "This simply started as a practical effort to keep people safe."